Friday, September 25, 2009

Thoughts on My Time in Czech, 2009

My time in Czech this summer was such a stretching experience. I'll tell you more about it below, but just know that this blog post has been delayed because I had to jump into things (and ministry) right after coming back home.

I think of this summer as one of the hardest in my life, but I mean it in a good way. God used people, challenges, and problems to further shape me into the man of God He wants me to be. As I look back on the summer, I am so encouraged that He worked in me and though me in these areas:

*Conflict/Confrontation - I've always heard the biblical edifying view of confrontation, but I was always afraid to address it before. This summer I saw much more of a need to do so. By the end of the summer I was almost moved to tears by the direct impact confrontation made on someone's life. I definitely owe many thanks to my co-leader Erica for pushing me forward in this direction and helping me show love in it
(My Team in Prague at Cream & Dream)
*Leadership - This summer I got to really lead! Last summer things were in place for us, and at the same time both Erica and I felt lost and confused through most of the summer. God worked through me to really lead and encourage my team this summer, and I was blessed through it.

*Falling in Love with God's Word - What a privilege it was to share God's Word at 3 camps this summer. This summer we told unbelievers the story of God's redemptive history. Straight up Bible stories told as stories. I saw everyone involved get a clearer picture of God, and barriers to accepting Christ started to break down. Three students responded specifically to the Gospel call, with many others expressing deep interest in these things. God's Word is more powerful than our fancy crafted deliveries.
(Story of God Icons...can you guess what each story is about?)
*Resisting Spiritual Warfare/Attack - Satan tried to attack me in two main ways: 1. almost getting me to bail out right before even going to Czech, and 2. introducing fear and uncertainty in walking by faith at the beginng of the summer especially. Both times I wanted to be home, but God showed me the spiritual attach through friends and brought me through it.

**MY CALL** - While being in Czech this summer I was rejuvenated for the ministry that's going on there, not only through English camps in the summer, but through the depth of relationships throughout the year. All summer He was clarifying my call to come back to Czech sooner rather than later. So here's more details.
(Me in Old Town Square, Prague)
I'm currently in the beginning stages of working my way back to Czech. This will require a commitment to be there for two years, with the outlook of staying there until God calls me elsewhere. After my application is accepted, I can begin to raise support, attend missionary training and language acquisition school, and figuring out more details. I know it's a crazy time to be raising support to move overseas for ministry, but I am confident that God will provide in His timing. Praise the Lord that people so generously supported me this summer, in the midst of a financial crisis.

My goal would be to get back to Czech in less than 2 years, and if He provides the funds before this summer or next fall, I would not be opposed at all. Two things I know for certain: God is calling me back to Czech and He's not done working on me in the process of getting back there.

Please keep me in prayer as I serve in my church back home and further pursue ministry in Czech.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Prep Periods, Prayer Time

As a leader at camp I am not in an English Class. It is during that time that I pray, work through some camp/team problems, and prepare to present the Story of God. This was my view one morning:

This week I really felt the joy of being able to share the Story of God with these students. The first full night we shared the story of Creation. The end of the story left Adam and Eve in the Garden living in a perfect relationship with God. We wanted students to feel the perfection, so that the Fall would feel like the blow it really was.
After telling the story, I took a walk to pray during discussion groups. The most UNBELIEVABLE sunset was spread across my view, and I felt the perfection that God created Adam & Eve in. I love how the mists are in the valleys, too. It was a great privilege and feeling.

Vikyrovice Camp

Vikyrovice camp got off to an interesting start. I found myself very exhausted and overwhelmed throughout the week, but we also saw God really work at camp anyway.
At the last night we gave an invitation for students to accept Christ and 3 students responded. Others remained in the room to think about things and ask questions. We really felt the Spirit of God at the camp and especially that last night.
Here are some pictures:
A-B-C-Flak...a very painful game but a great crowd breaker for the first night
Group Photo
Campfire...always a great way to hang out and talk
Paintball for followup...the first game was boring but the second game I shot 5 people.
Goodbye at the train station

Friday, July 17, 2009

Šumperk Camp!!

Here are some pictures from Šumperk Camp...It was a great time, and I want to thank all my friends who came. We shared from the Story of God, and it was a great way to present who God really is. Please continue to keep these students in prayer.

Our Intern Team
Zdenek, Kugi, and I
Some Friends from Camp at Followup in Šumperk
Pics of Everyone at Camp

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Camp Season Begins

I am currently back in Hotel Malenovice for our first US Team Training. The purpose of this time is to review a few things for the American Youth Group and for Czech, American, and Intern teams to come together as one team. Our team from New Hope Church in Minnesota should be arriving in the next hour or so at the train station, and I have the privilege of picking them up because I know how to drive stick/manual (thanks Dad), which is every car in Europe just about.

Our intern team will be doing camp with New Hope in Sumperk. I am so excited to serve with this American team. They always bring over such quality students, and there are many returning that I have seen really catch the vision of English camps and serve well. If any of you read this...thank you!

Sumperk is one of the two groups I've worked with in the Fall, and I love the students of Sumperk. I have a passion to see them come to know Christ, and for some of these Christian students to step into leadership.

Keep us in prayer for the next 12 days. Camp is from July 4-11, training from now until then.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Long Day of Travel

This picture was taken while we were on our "short" trip from Malenovice to Sumperk. We were in Malenovice for a work project on a guest house for missionaries for a few days, and this is a trip I've taken often. Well normally this trip takes just over 3 hours, actually a nice trip by train through Czech. There was apparently flooding throughout the region we had to travel through to get back to Sumperk, so instead it took us 7 hours. In that 7 hours we encountered quite a few rediculous situations that had us laughing about in confusion:
My first "Cancelled" train
Train > Bus > Train > Train > Bus > Train
Sitting in a train for 1 hour at a station with no warning
(see above) Crowded more people on the train than could fit - I thought I had seen it all, but people didn't get on the train and the ticket lady yelled at people from outside the train
Sat in the front seat of a Bus as a buddy driver
Went the wrong way on the highway in a Bus
Rushed to catch a train that decided to wait an extra 1/2 hour anyway

Let me tell you the story of the bus ride. So we get on this overcrowded bus (something common in Czech when they're doing this) and I'm standing by the door. The bus driver decides he wants to leave space for him to see past me to the door, so he throws down a seat in the middle of the bus (I think it was a ghetto tourist bus). I'm sitting there, enjoying the ride and we get to a detour. The driver opens the door and yells at the police man, then makes a u-turn instead of following the detour. The door is still open (and my huge hiking backpack is sitting on the steps as we head back up the exit ramp. I have a front-row seat to the whole thing.

As we get to the highway, the bus driver actually tries to block others from going down that same ramp! He gets right in the middle of the exit ramp and keeps waving them to say "no, don't go that way". Then he waits to make a u-turn for about a minute, and we never know when he's actually going to go for it. He makes it and some people clap, probably because we're actually alive. We make it to the train station later than a lot of other busses because of our detour.

Now the door was open for that whole u-turn/wrong way on the highway thing. My back was litterally perched on the stairs, and I had to hold it with my leg. Afterwards, we all talked about how the bus driver was insane, and we totally don't get why he didn't just follow the cops' detour.

Just one crazy experience with Czech travel and an insane bus driver. A front-row seat in a dangerous situation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Month in Czech

This post is definitely a few weeks coming. So much has happened in the last month, that I don't even know how to describe it all.

Arriving in Czech
I arrived in Czech on May 27th, after travelling for 2 days. During that time I felt really prepared, and it was really nice to be able to spend the plane rides thinking and sleeping. I arrived for our Amazing Race (Vienna > Bratislava > Budapest > Czech) quite tired and not really ready to lead, but God brought our team together through the "fun" [read: really tiring with lots of walking] experience that it was.
Intern Training
I was surprised to find myself very fearful about the summer at intern training. It was actually spritual attack, and we prayed through the experience. I think my eyes are more open to see spiritual attack when it comes this summer, so the experience was good. I have been really learning about walking by faith, and I think this is the first time I'm really walking blind (or at least the first time I can see it).Weekend Visits
We've been visiting different groups this summer over the last few weekends. These are the groups we're doing camp with: Vikyrovice, Havlickuv Brod, and Sumperk. All three visits have been so different, but have been a good time to connect with these groups. I am excited to do camps with each of these groups for different reasons, and I think God will use each church/group for something special.
School Visits
We have also been visiting groups throughout the weekdays. Our first visit was after our Vikyrovice weekend visit, and I really enjoyed it. In fact, school visits remind me how much I love Czech students and how much I love doing this ministry in Czech. It's been great to go with the Youth Leaders into these schools, and I think even in doing that we're opening their eyes to the possibilities of outreach in Czech even more.

Work Project
Our team is currently in Malenovice with Jerry's team, working on a guest house where missionaries can come to get care and counseling. It still has a long way to go, but we've worked hard on it over the last 1 1/2 days. Some guys were tearing up the second floor in a house and we've been moving wood, cleaning out hay, and building a small roof. Lots of fun to be together, but tiring in the mud, fog, and rain

Next week we return to Malenovice, and our first camp begins on July 4th. Please be in prayer for our camp with Sumperk. We are so excited for this camp (we've been staying in Sumperk, too), and I believe that God is going to really work through our programs and teams at this camp.

Pics on Facebook:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Route to Czech is preparation

So...a little something got messed up when I tried to post an update and it actually uploaded 5 different posts of 140 characters...just a little problem. Here's my update from the airport:

I am officially on my way to Czech. I got on the plane 11 hours ago and am now in New York. I am actually flying to Vienna, where I will meet my interns and we will start the Amazing Race: a team-building experience that can be exhausting. Travel has been tiring, especially because the New York airport is confusing - I got on a train leaving the airport before I realized my error and I had to go outside w/o a jacket!

Despite these things, God has been preparing me for this summer in Czech and guiding my thoughts for how to lead this team. I've had time on planes to think and plan, and actually had to try my best to keep from sleeping on this last flight so I can sleep tonight.

God is faithful, and I am eager to see how He uses me to guide this team and what He teaches me in the process.

My next update will be from the Czech Republic! Keep praying.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This captures the spirit of what I struggle with in life/ministry: transition

One of the bands that I found out about in the last 2 years and have come to really enjoy is the band Future of Forestry (formerly known as Something Like Silas). They have a unique ambient sound that moves me to worship God, which is their goal as they make music.

I was reading their "behind the album" section about their most recent EP/Album, and I was struck by what the lead singer (Eric) said about their title track "Traveler's Song". It captures the essence of what I feel as I move in and out of different groups, as I transition in life constantly and look for security in my surroundings. In the end I find out that only GOD HIMSELF is constant. Knowing Him intimately and serving Him wholeheartedly are what matters. As I have felt overwhelmed by the space around me and the transitions He has led me through, I am learning to trust in Him and His perfect plan. The post is reprinted below from their website where you can also hear instrumentals of their songs.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

“…if you travel here, listen to your heart. And take with you what lasts forever.”

I keep waiting for things to settle down, for life to quit throwing curve balls, to offer me a season without change. And although this has been one of the most transitional stages of my life, I have discovered that life itself is a transition. The transition has no end. It is always changing. I am learning that one of the few things I really have is the ability to choose what matters.

I tend to write songs in which I coach myself through the process I’m going through. In this case, it is learning to slow down and “wait” through a season that has felt unexpected, confusing, and has left me wondering how it will turn out. My career as an artist has always felt uneasy-- never the posh life-style that many musicians have been labeled with. I struggle every day simply to remain me, to continue creatively thriving as me, to make a living being me. I’ve been worn out by the struggle, and this songs are telling me that there is plenty of time for me to slow down if I wait. Along the road, if am diligent to take the time, I will learn to lean into the things that are close to my heart.

This song is what gave birth to the entire 3 album Travel series. Travel is a subject that seems to open up all sorts of songs about the long journey. Although many of my songs have been about home, I have come to realize that this life here is, in essence, varying spaces that we travel through. Hence came the 3 EP’s releasing every 4 months this year featuring air travel, sea travel, and land travel.


Wait, stay here and have a drink of time

Wait, before you split yourself in two

There’s time for you

If you travel here, you will feel it all

The brightest and the darkest

If you travel here, listen to your heart

And take with you what last forever

Sleep, and dream the dream of when you fly

See through traveler’s eyes who want to give

To love and give

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Phoenix - Wedding | Chicago - Visit | Hawaii - Youth Group | Czech

Hawaii Versus Phoenix

I'm out this week in Phoenix for a friend's wedding. It's cool to hang out with some friends that I've been able to serve with in Czech. The weather's actually nice here (warm and sunny), and nicer than Hawaii is right now (rainy). Monday I head to Chicago to visit some friends at Moody (and some that graduated with me) before they graduate or move. It's nice to have a week off, but I'll also be happy to return to my youth group for next weekend. They're a great group to serve with and God's doing some great things at my home church. We'll see where He continues to take things.

Still raising support for the summer, and was pleasantly surprised to see that my plane ticket won't be any more expensive than it was last year. I have a great set of interns (our team is 6 total), 4 Americans and 2 Czechs from Sumperk. Please pray that God would continue to prepare our hearts for a summer of service and that He would guide me to direct this team I get to lead.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's Time to get ready to go back!

I have truly been slow in updating my blog. Here's a small overview of what I've been up to:
I've been working with the youth group (Youth In Motion) at my home church as a leader, as well as helping the youth director come up with some ideas on how to do things even better than they are already going.
I've also been teaching weekly at our Friday night AWANA Bible study, looking at the life of Jesus.
Finally, I've been taking care of everything I need to be a substitute teacher, both after spring break and into next school year (just got things in on Mondy 'cuz I had to take a class first).

There's some other good news, too. I am going back to the Czech Republic this summer as an intern leader again! I just found out a few weeks ago that I was accepted and can start raising support, so I'll be sending out some letters soon. I'm also excited because two of my Czech friends are applying to be on my intern team. This will present a unique set of challenges, but I think will be beneficial for all of us. (by the way, their English skills are impeccable)

Please pray for me as I prepare for Czech, will be speaking several times over the next 1 1/2 weeks, and continue to do as much as I can to serve my church and the people here until I leave.

The time has flown by since I've been home.
[I've also posted some pictures on my flickr site, so click on the slideshow to the left to see them.]

Monday, January 12, 2009

Aloha From Hawaii

Aloha From Hawaii, originally uploaded by JoshHawaii.

Just checking in to say hey. This week has been a great time with my family, but I have also started looking for a job in Hawaii. I am currently trying to get a job with either HBA or the Hawaii Department of Education as a substitute teacher. There is a huge need here for that and it is flexible (so when I leave for the summer to serve in Czech again I don't have to quit). I'll be really working on those applications this week.

My plan is to serve with the youth group during my time here as well, and help the current leadership in any way I can. So far I have helped out with the winter conference and some other recent events. It seems like the Youth In Motion (Grace Fellowship's Youth Group) is doing pretty well, and I am excited to come alongside this team that is already training these youth in Christlikeness.

I also got the chance to speak in church today about my time in Czech. I went over time a little bit, but everyone seemed to appreciate hearing about what God is doing in Czech. I shared in both services, and will share again next Sunday about some of what I did in the Fall.

I would also like to welcome anyone from Grace Fellowship to my blog and hope that you are encouraged as you read about what God is doing in Czech and in my life.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year from Hawaii

This was the scene at my house on New Year's Eve. We were popping firecrackers on the left and had just done a bunch of fountains in front. We had a modest gathering at our house compared to last year, but it was still good.

Earlier that day I had been at the Winter Youth Conference for our church and watched the sunrise with them. I also went to a party with some church friends nearby for about 3 hours, and it was a great time. It was good to reconnect with old friends at that party and make new ones at the Winter Conference.

2008 was a great year with it's share of difficulties and challenges. I look forward to what God has for me in 2009 and the ways He will continue to reveal Himself to me.

P.S. Check my flickr page for more pictures